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The Illinois PUNS Database and Children’s Support Services Waiver – New Pathways to Services and Supports for Children and Youth with Developmental Disabilities

The Illinois PUNS Database and Children’s Support Services Waiver – New Pathways to Services and Supports for Children and Youth with Developmental Disabilities

By Tony Paulauski, Executive Director, The Arc of Illinois; Faye Manaster, MEd, Director, Family to Family Health Information and Education Center; Charlotte Cronin, Director, Illinois Family Support Network

On July 1, 2007, the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities (DHS/DDD), launched the Children’s Support Services waiver, a 1915(c) Medicaid Home and Community Based waiver for children aged three through 21 years. The waiver allows Illinois to provide home and community-based services and supports for children and young adults with developmental disabilities so they may live at home with their families and avoid residential placement. Children who were enrolled in the DHS/DDD Family Support and Assistance (72D) program (prior state-funded in-home supports to prevent institutionalization) have been invited to enroll, and it is anticipated that some new children whose families have enrolled in the Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) database will be permitted to apply for this waiver in 2008.

The first step in applying for services from the new Children’s Support Waiver, as well as for other services, is completion of the PUNS form with the child’s local Independent Service Coordination agency (see right). Illinois children with developmental disabilities (aged three through 21 years of age) currently living at home with their families may apply for the waiver starting in January 2008. The extent of care required to maintain these children at home must be so extensive – due to the severity of the developmental disability and its impact on the family – that their parents would consider residential placement for them.

Services to be covered by the new waiver will be determined on an individual basis by the family and their service facilitator. Examples of services that may be covered by the waiver include personal assistance services, respite care, physical, occupational, behavioral and other types of therapies, and home modification for physical accessibility and/or safety. Enrolled children also receive All Kids health insurance. Eligible children can receive supports and services valued up to $1,246 per month, two times the current Supplemental Security Income (SSI) this year. The number of dollars available is indexed to SSI, assuring that the dollar amount keeps pace with inflation. Eligibility for SSI is not required.

Families of children with developmental disabilities deal with many challenges in their daily lives. Physicians and office staff members can offer enhanced medical home services to these families by informing them about the new Children’s Support Waiver, the PUNS process, and where to go for more information. Please visit, call 866/931-1110 or e-mail for additional information on the PUNS program or the new waiver.

What is PUNS?

Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) is a database of Illinois children, adolescents, and adults with developmental disabilities who have needs – or anticipate having needs – for developmental disability services or supports. Possible services include respite care, training programs, and adaptive equipment. Although completion of a PUNS form does not guarantee eligibility for services or the provision of services, the information provided will help the Illinois Department of Human Services anticipate service needs statewide and determine how best to use resources to meet those needs.

How to Enroll in PUNS

Families of children with a developmental disability should contact their local Independent Service Coordination agency (visit or call 800/588-7002 for a list of local agencies). An agency representative will meet with the child and a family member/guardian to perform a Pre-admission Screening. The family must provide information on their child’s medical condition, living arrangement and need for new, additional or different services. This will allow the pre-admission screener, on behalf of the state, to determine whether the child’s needs are fully served, and if not, to categorize the need for developmental disabilities services. The child’s information will then be entered into the PUNS database. The Developmental Disabilities Hotline at 888/DD-PLANS and 866/376-8446 (TTY) can assist families with the process.

The Arc of Illinois and the Family Support Network of Illinois have designed a day-long seminar to address questions about the Children’s Support Waiver. The seminar will be repeated seven times at sites all over the state between October 16 and November 15, 2007. For dates, times and locations, please visit Families can apply to the Arc of Illinois for stipends to cover some of the seminar costs.